Ryan Tilley from THE NICK DRAKE PROJECT interviews ESTHER JUN, director of:
FEAR AND MISERY OF THE THIRD REICH,
by Bertolt Brecht
1. What inspired you to take on this story and difficult subject matter?
I have always been fascinated by Nazi Germany. What caused the German people to adopt such craziness? People think of Nazi Germany as a thing of the past, something that could not happen to them, but unfortunately I do not think that is true. People are capable of incredible things in extraordinary circumstances. Every time I read the play it give me chills. It could happen again, some of these scenes are happening right now somewhere in the world- people are living in fear.
2. Had you directed Brecht before?
Not a full production. I have done a lot of Brecht scene work and workshops when I was traning in London (for directing).
3. In a festival featuring almost exclusively original works, why choose this piece?
I love the classics. I love making them accessible for new audiences. A classic is timeless for a reason and I love discovering those reasons. Plus no arguments or worrying about the playwrights feelings! This particular piece also seemed suitable for a festival- I wanted to work with an ensemble cast and the short scene structure seemed ideal for cutting (which turned out to be more difficult than I thought).
4. What drew you to tell
this story at this particular time in history?
See answer to #1. I recently have worked on two plays that have dealt with genocides ( a nanking winter & Ten Green Bottles). People say “we will never forget.” I do not think society has learned its lesson yet. Genocides are still happening and we are still sticking our head in the sand. The play is pre-holocaust, but you can see the seeds of fear and hate being planted. That is the moment things should change, not when it is too late.
5. Did you do a lot of research
for this piece?
I’m still in the process. I love research and have half the Toronto Public Library on hold.
6. What was your biggest discovery?
What complete emotional cripples the leaders of the Nazi Party were. I am still shocked that this group of damaged and sad individuals took over a country and caused such devastation.
7. What are your hopes for this piece?
I would love to do a full production of the entire script with huge multi-cultural cast. Colorblind casting is very important to me- I have a very diverse cast for this production which is not a political statement, but an artistic one.
8. What do you want people to take away from this experience?
I would love people to actually think what would they do in these situations. Do they really think they would do any better than the characters? I also want people to have a good time. I think people have certain expectations of Brecht. I just want to create a dramatic show that actually is alot of fun to watch.
9. What is your biggest fear as related to the subject matter of this play?
I do not want to hit anyone over the head with a message. This is not a show about Darfur, China, Burma or anywhere else. Audiences can take what they want. 10. In your synopsis you describe “The darkness in men’s hearts, that still beats today.”
10. How does this play relate to present times?
Refer to answers for 1 & 4. Governments, fanatics and the far right have not changed much. sigh!